Sunday, December 7, 2008


Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll...and orchids!

We all seek to improve our lives. It isn't always easy to find the right road and sometimes we need outside assistance. We are taught that for the best results we should find objective parties to guide us. That is where clergy, school counselors, professional analysis or consultancy firms come into play. But overwhelmingly, self-discovery is an internal device. One could say that Darwin's survival of the fittest theory, is based on the same concept. Finding the right balance of what we want and need, and changing...until our personal comfort zone is found. That is the premise of the 2002 movie "ADAPTATION;" how personalities and lifestyles evolve through experience. ADAPTATION DESERVEDLY WON SEVERAL OSCARS AND NUMEROUS OTHER AWARDS YET MOST CASUAL MOVIE-GOERS DON'T KNOW IT.

My connection to "Adaptation" started in 2003. Over the course of two breaks at work, I saw two fifteen-minute segments. I was riveted by the story and the main characters, Nicolas Cage, (double role as twins) Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. The next day I started an additional information campaign and asked around. But none of my movie cronies knew much about it. Until I asked the mom of one of my son Andrew's friends. She said, "The movie IS great but the book, "THE ORCHID HUNTER" in which the film is based (by Susan Orlean) was better!"

I ran to the library and read this "best seller." Hey, we all have our own taste but believe me, this book sucked. It led me down the primrose path waiting for something to happen...and it never did. I guess its hard for me to get excited about a flower movie. So, DON'T read the book! See the movie. I can say that because I just saw it, for the first time in its entirety on, ON DEMAND and loved it.

The reason why the film and book differ is...the movie (based on truth) is about a screen writer's struggle to write a movie about the book. He (Cage as Charlie Kaufman) has writers block because the book doesn't really have a plot. To eliminate the blockage, he, together with his complete opposite twin (it is never made clear whether the twin is real or a facet of his subconscious) tries to get to know the author (Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean) and the book's main character, the eccentric and toothless orchid hunter, (Chris Cooper as John Laroche).

The theme of the movie is personal change...growth. This notion is exemplified by Charlie Kaufman who writes the way he lives...with great difficulty. Donald his twin, who lives the way he writes...with foolish abandon. Susan who writes about life...but can't live it. And John, whose life is a book...waiting to be adapted (he's also willing to play himself in the movie).

"Adaptation" may seem complicated but it is not. The use of super-imposed "three weeks later" banners etc., help clarify the many flashbacks. However, despite the simplicity, the fun is fueled by everything being plausibly unpredictable. Plus, unlike the book, you'll feel sympathy for the highly flawed characters.

That's the whole story, four lives, a million ways they can each find happiness through adaption and countless ways for the movie to end. Trust me on this, improve your life, find this movie and tell me how much you loved it too.

P.S. - STAGE doesn't think so but the toothless Laroche character (if he had teeth) looks like just like him.

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